Saturday, October 6, 2001
"I overheard her saying it was no big deal. But I was thrilled, and I
think she was, too .... It was a surprise -- a really neat surprise."
-- Paul O'Rear, Ashley O'Rear's father
STAR-TELEGRAM / RON T. ENNIS
Ashley O'Rear, center, with her parents, Paul and Susan, has been picked to carry the Olympic torch.
|By MELODY MCDONALD
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
FORT WORTH -- The inspirational story of Ashley O'Rear's determination to conquer cancer impressed the organizers of the 2002 Olympic Games.
In July, it bestowed on her the honor to help carry the Olympic torch as it passed through North Texas en route to Utah.
And then came the morning of Sept. 11.
Terrorists had attacked the United States, even as new tests that day showed that cancer again was attacking Ashley.
The 14-year-old freshman at Waxahachie High School had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in March 1997, but after extensive treatment, she believed she had beaten it.
In the summer of 1998, her parents threw her a huge "No More Chemo Party."
But on that horrific day in September, doctors discovered otherwise.
"It was totally unexpected and devastating," said Ashley's father, Paul O'Rear, 39. "I really honestly believed she had this thing beaten for good."
During Ashley's fight with cancer, O'Rear had kept a daily, online journal about his daughter's progress. Realizing that her story had inspired him, as well as dozens of people going through similar struggles, O'Rear nominated his daughter to carry the torch.
A short time later, the O'Rear family received an e-mail from the event's organizers, saying she -- and her dad -- had been selected to carry the flame on Dec. 12 as it travels through Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth.
"I thought it was cool," Ashley said Friday in a telephone interview from her home, her voice groggy from chemotherapy pills. "It wasn't really a big deal."
O'Rear, a youth minister at the College Street Church of
Christ in Waxahachie, laughed at his daughter's nonchalance.
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